Renewable Energy and Sustainability

Worldwide demand for energy continues to increase dramatically, even as traditional fuel sources are diminishing. Environmental and climate change concerns have also highlighted the need to develop low-carbon energy sources. The investment in and development of renewable energy resources, both for electric power production and for fuel consumption, affect every business sector throughout the global economy. In today's market, utility companies, renewable energy developers, commercial real estate developers, venture capitalists, tax investors, lenders, equipment manufacturers, installers, inventors and owners of intellectual property, and all energy consumers require knowledgeable counsel to help them negotiate the opportunities that are coupled with new laws and regulations.

To help meet these emerging challenges, Duane Morris attorneys bring broad and extensive experience in energy development, regulation, tax, corporate, project finance, intellectual property, environmental, construction and real estate matters, among others. We possess the business experience and creative legal thinking necessary to help clients achieve their "green" objectives. Duane Morris attorneys are well-versed in renewable energy and understand the current key market drivers - including financial incentives and stimulus bill funding - as well as the significant compliance obligations impacting renewable energy projects.

Our objective is to help our clients address the many issues raised by the renewable energy market, including:

  • Developing renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, water, biomass and biofuel power projects, as well as renewable fuel projects.
  • Licensing of renewable energy projects, including understanding regional electric power markets, market designs and state Renewable Portfolio Standards.
  • Securing environmental permits, including permits for water usage, as part of environmental compliance strategy.
  • Participating in public policy debates associated with climate change and water usage at both the federal and state levels.
  • Developing and bringing energy efficiency technologies and mechanisms to market.
  • Structuring investments to comply with corporate and tax objectives, including federal and state tax incentives and related financial programs.
  • Structuring various forms of financing for renewable energy projects, including project finance and private-public partnerships. Engineering, procurement and construction of renewable energy projects and infrastructure, including LEED-certified construction and government procurement and contracting.
  • Protecting and licensing intellectual property rights.

Commitment and Experience

Duane Morris attorneys are deeply involved in and committed to the renewable energy and conservation markets. Our firm is a member of American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and other industry organizations, and participates actively in helping establish the policies and rules that will further stimulate the development of the renewable energy industry. Several of our lawyers are LEED accredited, and many are active researchers, writers and speakers on "green" issues. We are also leaders in our communities, spearheading business and residential community programs and initiatives to promote sustainable practices, such as the Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program.

A global law firm, Duane Morris has attorneys with the requisite experience to handle issues that may arise in the development of renewable energy projects throughout the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.

In-Depth Industry Knowledge

At the core of our Renewable Energy and Sustainability practice are attorneys who have spent their entire careers working within the industry, including those who have worked as general counsel to energy development and services companies, and those who have held leadership positions with federal and local energy commissions before joining Duane Morris.

We are staffed with attorneys and government relations professionals experienced in representing developers, owners and operators of renewable energy projects, as well as more traditional fossil-fueled energy projects, throughout the United States and various international power markets. We have a long tradition of representing clients before various state and federal regulatory and administrative agencies and have contributed to the formation of policies that drive the market.

Our clients' success in the renewable energy market requires not only experience with the various legal issues that our clients may confront, but an interdisciplinary approach that provides our clients access to this experience in a manner that is collaborative with the client, seamless, and cost-efficient. Our knowledge and interdisciplinary approach allows Duane Morris to provide full-service legal support to clients in the renewable energy sector.

 Areas of Experience

Renewable Energy Development
Energy Regulation and Compliance
Energy Facility Construction and Recommissioning
Sustainability
Federal Building & Green Construction
Environmental Regulation
Water Rights and Regulation
Project Finance
Intellectual Property
Corporate Structure and Tax Planning
Real Estate
Private Equity/Venture Capital
Public Policy & Government Affairs

 

Representative Matters

Renewable Energy Development

  • Represented a French CAC 40 company in a structured finance transaction in which Veolia provided guarantees for a certain portion of a credit facility entered into by its indirect affiliate, Ridgeline Energy, LLC. Ridgeline, a U.S.-based wind-energy project developer, will use the credit facility to finance its Goshen Phase II wind-energy project in Idaho. Duane Morris provided a legal opinion regarding the guarantees for the banks that provided the credit facility.
  • Represented developer of a wind farm in western Pennsylvania. At the time construction was completed, it was the largest wind project east of the Mississippi River.
  • Negotiated interconnection agreements, electricity-sales contracts, utility-undergrounding agreements and load-transfer agreements.

Energy Regulation and Compliance

  • Represented a public agency before the California Public Utilities Commission regarding divestiture of PG&E's assets.
  • Represented San Francisco before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in landmark proceeding involving establishment of fishery flows and other environmental measures on the Tuolumne River in California.

Energy Facility Construction and Recommissioning

  • Represented owner/developer in claim involving failed biomass power plant in connection with PG&E's standard-offer contracts and plant development work in Southern California.
  • Represented project developer in connection with wind-power projects in Australia.

Environmental Regulation

  • Defense and negotiation of non-admission settlement of alleged Title V permit violations relating to minimum-temperature and monitoring requirements.
  • Defended electric-generating facility in probation revocation proceeding that resulted from alleged Clean Air Act opacity excursions. Assisted in the design of a monitoring and compliance program and negotiated the terms for terminating probation.
  • Lead counsel to energy company in resolving parallel criminal proceeding in the aftermath of the release of 275,000 gallons of highly acidic wastewater into a wetlands area. Following grand jury testimony, our internal investigation and interviews by the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and FBI, the company pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, and charges were not levied against any of the individual defendants.

Water Rights and Regulation

  • Negotiated legislation to amend water-transfer provisions in the California Water Code.
  • Defended a water utility in a suit brought by a construction company contracted to build a large fossil-fuel power generating station in Puerto Rico.
  • Represented large urban water agency regarding renewals of contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, including contract negotiation, environmental compliance and litigation.
  • Represented two cement plants accused of making illegal discharges into the San Francisco Bay in violation of the Clean Water Act.
  • Represented major public agency through each of the necessary steps in building a water-desalination project.
  • Ongoing representation of county water district in water-supply-contract negotiations with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

 

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Diversity

"In my discussions with Duane Morris leaders, they frequently speak about how diversity within their firm has enabled them to better serve their diverse clients. They understand that investing in diversity is a wise business decision that positions them for the marketplace of the future."

Don Liu
Senior VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
Xerox Corporation

At Duane Morris, achieving diversity is paradoxical. By supporting and celebrating the differences of our attorneys - and the individual strengths that they bring - our firm culture expands, fostering creative solutions for our clients. But diversity at Duane Morris does not mean that we have a certain number of diverse attorneys; true diversity means that it is no longer noteworthy to see diverse lawyers leading our practice groups or managing client relationships. Ascending to positions of leadership and greater responsibility and providing the highest levels of client service is simply what is expected of all our lawyers. Diversity is another strong asset that adds to our collective abilities to meet the needs of our clients.

Our vision of diversity at Duane Morris is to realize an environment in which our lawyers' outstanding qualities are not just measured by ethnicity, race, gender and sexual orientation, but more importantly, that our lawyers are remarkable as excellent attorneys above all else. Only then can we celebrate our differences while focusing on the common pursuit of legal excellence which everyone shares at Duane Morris.

To reach this goal, Duane Morris understands that the familiar diversity strategies and policies that most law firms have are needed. Without demanding results from such policies, most law firms are bound to fail in even achieving numerical hiring and retention goals. Duane Morris has been proactive and ambitious in its efforts to improve diversity at the firm, and has set deadlines for reaching the milestones which mark our progress. To create a more diverse law firm, Duane Morris is:

  • Committed to strategically increasing our diversity levels, which is currently at 10 percent.
  • Bringing together our Diversity Committee and our Hiring and Retention Committee to raise diversity as an important factor in our hiring decisions.
  • Dedicated to improving retention by building upon our monitoring and mentoring program for all diverse associates.

Combining new initiatives with our longstanding diversity efforts, Duane Morris has seen increasingly positive results. In the Minority Law Journal's annual diversity survey of the nation's largest 260 firms, Duane Morris continued to improve its regional and national ranking, rising to number 136 of all firms surveyed. Our strides in Philadelphia are encouraging; in a city known for both the racial diversity of its population and the lack thereof in its law firms, Duane Morris is one of only two law firms to exceed the national average of minority partners at all law firms. Additionally, Duane Morris leads all national law firms based in Philadelphia in the number of Latino partners. Nearly 30 percent of all of our attorneys are women, and more than 20 percent of our partners are women.

In our approach to diversity, progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity cannot be measured in numbers alone. Duane Morris has focused our diversity initiatives on both increasing the number of diverse associates and addressing the challenges diverse attorneys face in building lasting careers and rising to senior and leadership positions. While several of our key practice groups are led by diverse partners and female partners, Duane Morris endeavors to create a culture which will foster a deep pool of such attorneys who can then develop into the firm's future leaders. Duane Morris understands that simply hiring diverse associates will not change the diversity of the firm; Duane Morris is working to mentor and retain diverse associates so that our progress in racial, gender and cultural diversity is also reflected at the highest levels of leadership within the firm.

Our progress on gender diversity has been profound. We have no glass ceilings: women hold positions of leadership at all levels of management at the firm. Women lead a number of our key practice groups, including our Energy, Immigration and International practices, and serve on the firm's Executive Committee. The success of our female attorneys at Duane Morris has not gone unnoticed. Barbara Adams was chair of the firm's Finance Practice until her appointment by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell to serve as General Counsel of the Commonwealth. In 2004, our longtime General Counsel, Gene E.K. Pratter, was approved by the United States Senate and is now a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Our efforts to improve diversity extend beyond our firm's walls. The chair of our Diversity Committee, Nolan N. Atkinson, Jr., recognized the lack of diversity in Philadelphia's legal community and formed the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. Nolan now serves as the chair of the organization, a consortium of 25 law firms and corporations that commits to employing at least one diverse first-year law student each as a summer associate. From this program, law students of diverse backgrounds gain access to what was once an exclusive legal community, and now have the opportunity to learn and develop their legal careers with experience at Philadelphia's top law firms.

In addition to our involvement in the Philadelphia area, Duane Morris has increased our presence at national conferences and events focused on diversity. We sponsor the Hispanic National Bar Association and its job fair. Duane Morris is also a longtime supporter and sponsor of the Equality Forum, a national gay and lesbian rights organization. Duane Morris continues to sponsor the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, and is active in other associations of diverse attorneys including: the Asian American Bar Association of the Delaware Valley; the Charles Houston Bar Association; Cuban Bar Association; Korean American Lawyers Association; National American Indian Housing Counsel and the National Bar Association.

The challenge of improving gender, ethnic and cultural diversity at Duane Morris is an ongoing effort that has the support of the entire firm. Duane Morris has been at the vanguard in supporting gender diversity throughout the firm beginning a generation ago. Our diversity programs are leading to similar success in improving racial and national origin diversity at Duane Morris. But even as we share these examples of Duane Morris attorneys and our involvement in numerous legal events, associations and programs for diversity, our hope is that such examples will no longer be necessary to mention in the future. We hope that through our efforts, and the efforts of other law firms, these stories become so common that they are no longer the remarkable accomplishments they are today, but simply routine aspects of the legal world tomorrow.